Maria Bamford

Stand-up comedian Maria Bamford is truly one of a kind. Her comedy is imaginative and unconventional, as are some of her favorite artists, including Bjork and Nina Simone. She also chooses a band from her hometown and picks a track about life on the road for her Guest DJ set. Maria will be performing as part of RIOT LA on Friday, January 29 alongside Natasha Leggero and Janeane Garofalo.

Hosted by Dan Wilcox.

For more:


1. Nina Simone -- "I've Got Life"

2. Bjork -- "Raise Your Flag"

3. Eleja Choir – “Jubilee Anthem Nigeria”

4. Low – “No Comprende”

5. Journey – “Faithfully”

Dan Wilcox: Hey, this is Dan Wilcox from KCRW, and I am here with stand-up comedian Maria Bamford. Her comedy is imaginative, unconventional and incredibly unique. She is one of a kind and we are thrilled to have her today to talk about some of the songs that have inspired her throughout her life as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project.

Maria, welcome.

Maria Bamford: Thank you very much for having me. I’m quite delighted and honored.

DW: Likewise. What’s the first song you’ve got for us today?

MB: Well, my musical tastes have run -for many years- along the lines of 102.7 KIISFM, I am sorry to say.

I met my beloved husband three years ago and he said “Oh, hey, can we listen to something else?” And he introduced me to some of these tunes that have been just wonderful.

This first song is “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” by Nina Simone. We watched the documentary about Nina Simone and I also read the biography about her and I just really like the song.

It’s just like all the things that I don’t have, but I don’t want [except] this one thing -- which I can relate with. And also she was bi-polar -I think people in retrospect diagnosed- and I have a little bit of that too, so I said “hey”.

And she was a working artist for most of her life and had some major ups and downs. I might not have been as “down”… I’ve never gone to France and been on the streets...(laughs)

DW: (laughs) Dramatic!!

MB: And it’s also kind of funny. She names actually what she does have: she’s got her boobies, and she’s got her sex, and she’s got her liver.

DW: Going down the checklist.

MB: And, it’s true, that is genuinely all you need. Is it nice to have your house paid off?

But it’s also nice to have a pretty good liver.

DW: This is Nina Simone with “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.”

DW: So that was “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” as done by Miss Nina Simone. Talking to Maria Bamford, what is next for us?

MB: The next one, which is the first concert my husband took me to and it was magnificent at the Hollywood Bowl, yes, thumbs up.

I like the refrain in the song from “Declaration Independence” which is (said in a humorous voice) “raise your flaaag, higher higher. raise your flaaag, higher higher.” It just seems very inspiring. Whatever your flag is, to raise it. She may have written it for a singular purpose to inspire a certain revolution but I have co-opted it for my own independence day.

DW: Now was that your first experience listening to Bjork or at least like, being a fan of it.

MB: Yes, yes because I listened to the album a number of times before we went to the concert so that I would know. I like to learn. I do that before sports events as well. Learn about the players, what are their emotional lives like? ‘Cause that in fact is my nerd tendency, is like self-help stuff. Anything to do with Oprah is my Dungeons and Dragons...(laughs)

It might be an option for your spinning class, if Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” has stopped working in your workout, try this...

DW: Alright, let’s try it. This is Bjork, “Declare Independence,” here on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project.

DW: Bjork, with the song “Declare Independence.” What’s next for us here?

MB: Next is from my husband Scott Marvel Cassidy, let's get his name out there, he’s a wonderful guy.

And he’s a painter so he listens to music all the time. It’s a choir in Africa singing, but there’s a young child soloist. I think it’s a female child soloist. It’s called “The Jubilee Anthem,” and it’s such a happy song. It is really a very sweet song and I think I like it because I have a high-pitched voice that some can find extremely irritating.

Also, it reminds us of what our dog, Blueberry, would sound like if she could sing...which she can (laughing)… which she can. Whenever we leave the room, this is what she would sing. She’s a chihuahua so she’s a soprano for sure.

DW: Let’s give this song a listen to. This song is The Elijah Choir with the song “Jubilee Anthem” in Nigeria.

DW: Now the next one here I am very interested to hear. These are your peoples...

MB: A trio, from my hometown. They’ve had some people leave the band, but it’s called Low. And they live in Duluth. They’re kind of who I want to be in terms of I think it’d be really fun to live in my hometown and still be able to have a career ‘cause Duluth is -- I don’t know if you’ve been there, but it’s a little San Francisco- okay?

It’s not, it’s not at all. But they’ve been able to record and make beautiful work and then they tour a lot; have a great fan base. And I love that their name is Low. I don’t know if it’s supposed to belie a “low energy” but that is one of my gifts... an extreme entropy that just... People go "Oh, well your jokes are so well written." It’s like "No, it’s ‘cause they’re so old. They’re 12-13 years old." It’s a washing away of, carving from the tides. It’s not me actually working on them. Anyways, I’m just saying I like the idea of “Low.”

DW: Alright, let’s give this a listen to here. This is “No Comprende” but I suppose if you’re from Duluth, you don’t really...

MB: Oh si yo comprendo. Yo puedo hablar in español. Es un regalo de mi escuela secundaria.

DW: (laughs) Alright. Let’s give it a listen. This is Low as chosen by Maria Bamford, here on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project.

DW: Sitting here with Maria Bamford. Maria, what do you have next?

MB: My next tune, and this may be controversial… I went to a record playing party that was curated and I chose one of my only albums, which is Journey, and I handed out print outs of lyrics so everyone could sing along and I had to say, three quarters of the people did not participate despite the fact that there were libations and it was a joyful noise. The truth is, that is a very serious song. If you listen, it tells a story; it paints a picture: (sings) “I, until the...” I’m not even sure of the words... “This place in time, always another show.”

DW: And just so that the listeners know, the song we are referring to is...?

MB: “Faithfully,” by Journey. I don’t understand what “good music” is and what “bad music” is. The same reason I don’t understand what “good comedy” is and “bad”, you know, people go, “Oh, that’s good” and “That’s bad,” or “That’s funny,” or “That’s not funny.” If there’s one person who enjoys it, then it is whatever it is it says it is.

At least that’s why I continue to do comedy because I think I’m pretty, I’m pretty hilarious so therefore, I’ll keep going.

DW: You were what age when you first heard this song?

MB: Oh, I think around 12.

DW: How does the meaning of the song differ for you now than it did...?

MB: Oh God, well here’s the thing... it’s all about being on the road and it’s no place to start a family. Scott, my husband, high five on that, we’ve got three elderly pugs. He’s holdin’ down the fort. I’m out know basically doing whatever the hell I want... Kansas City one night. Louisville the next. "Hey babe! I’ll see ya couple weeks from now! Hope the dogs stop peeing in the house!" (laughs)

DW: So you love the song and he hates it.

MB: He really does...and so that shows how much he loves me, is that he will play that song in our living room and agree to slow dance to it. I would say at least once, every two months. Which is very kind.

DW: That’s love.

MB: That is love! That is true love.

DW: Alright lets give this a listen here. This is “Faithfully,” by Journey. Maria, thank you so much for joining us on

MB: Please send all letters of complaint to my website.